By: Dale King
Most people are aware of the phrase, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”
Well, my wife and I recently took part in a service of divine forgiveness, and we were pretty disappointed about how many of us humans reacted.
While we were leaving church on Easter, we noticed in the bulletin a reference to a service coming up the following weekend, on April 15. The day had been designated as Divine Mercy Sunday. And a special commemoration was planned at 2 p.m. If you had reconciled yourself with God, then you could attend that service, and, in the process, have all the sins from your entire lifetime wiped out.
This was a special gift from Christ. My wife and I got to the church about 10 minutes before 2, anticipating we would have to fight for a parking place and a seat. After all, the place was packed for Easter just one week before.
But as we turned into the lot, we saw a sparse number of cars. Well, there were still 10 minutes to the beginning of the service, so we figured there’d be a last-minute rush.
Well, the rush didn’t happen. The church was practically empty when one of the deacons began the special service.
My wife and I felt hurt by the lack of response. But we wondered how Jesus felt. After all, He set up the day to purge the souls of all sinners, whether they had many sins or just a few.
I don’t know why so few people showed up. And I don’t know why the service was assigned to a deacon rather than one of the priests.
I checked the Internet and found a long letter from Robert Allard, director of the Apostles of Divide Mercy from Port St. Lucie, explaining the background of the special day.
“Jesus not only requested this Feast of Mercy and designated that particular day [Sunday after Easter], but He also promised to pour out a whole ocean of graces on that day. Jesus promised the total forgiveness of sins and punishment for a soul that would go to Confession and then receive Holy Communion.”
That was also a little strange. My wife and I actually had to ask for communion as it was not part of the ceremony. And the ceremony was not a Mass.
Allard continued: “According to Jesus, the Feast of Mercy is to be celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Jesus is showing to us the close connection between the Easter mystery of man’s redemption and this feast. The Feast of Mercy is to be not only a day designated for the worship of God’s mercy, but also a day of grace for all people, particularly for sinners. Jesus attached great promises to this feast. One is the promise of complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. In other words, this grace is equal to the one we receive in the sacrament of baptism. It offers a completely new beginning.”
How many of us would not do better with a completely new beginning? We never thought of ourselves as rampant sinners. But we’re not perfect; not is anyone else, no matter what religion they espouse.
If a promise of complete forgiveness and a “new beginning” doesn’t work at a Catholic church, then it may also not work at another Christian church, a temple or a mosque. It isn’t just Catholics who are lazy.
My wife and I feel a little better after having attended this special service. But it doesn’t mean we are going to go around telling people we are better than them. After all, Christ taught – and practiced – humility, until the end of his life. Easter just reminded us of that characteristic along with his courage and sense of sacrifice.
If anyone wants to know more about his special day, they can check it on line. Visit http://www.DivineMercySunday.com . It contains bulletin inserts, images, Easter and Mercy Sunday homilies, instructional DVDs on how and why to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, sample newspaper articles to attract Fallen-away Catholics and much more.